Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Inmates fight blight - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Inmates fight blight

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Dozens of Shelby County inmates hit the streets Friday to help clean up a property in Nutbush.

The inmates worked as part of a partnership between a re-entry program for jail inmates and an anti-violence organization.

"We want people to be able to say, 'I'm proud to be a citizen of Memphis,'' Pastor Marvin Jones said.

Jones, the pastor of Holy Calling Fellowship Church, partnered with Memphis Code Enforcement and Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives.  Together they want to take back a Nutbush neighborhood.

"It gives those men some work habits," said Stevie Moore of Freedom from Unnecessary Negatives. "Some of those men have never even mowed a yard."

Within 45 minutes, Shelby County inmates put an end to the "criminal-clubhouse" complete with gang graffiti.

"Blight is a direct relationship to crime," Moore said. "If we keep blight in our community, you could kill someone and throw them in this bush and nobody would ever know they're over here."

Moore came up with the idea to enlist inmates to fight against blight. As a former inmate himself, he knew it could help others.  Then, he said, Mayor A C Wharton helped make it happen.

"These young men and women, they've got to do something when they get out," Moore said. "This teaches them to do something. We're working on something to help them be able to do this when they get out of jail."

Moore said the partnership will help inmates learn to give back to the community, instead of take from it - a lesson close to his heart.

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